With the famed Keith Wenning to Willie Snead connection that shattered Ball State's football records, and running back Jahwan Edwards breaking records of his own, one can be forgiven for overlooking the other assets that the Cardinals possessed last season. 2014 opens a new era under the Pete Lembo regime, and no player will be more critical to Ball State's success than wide receiver Jordan Williams.
Williams would have been the top target on most MAC teams a season ago. As a sophomore he was named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award watch list and from the start of the season did not disappoint. Williams topped the 100 yard receiving mark for the first time in just his second career start, tallying 105 and pulling in two touchdowns against Eastern Michigan.
He had his best game on the biggest stage, though. On the road at Virginia, the Indianapolis product caught nine balls for 159 yards and a touchdown in a 48-27 romp over the Cavaliers. Williams passed the century mark two more times in 2014, with 124 yards at Akron, and 161 yards in the home finale against Miami. Along with Snead and Jamill Smith, Ball State had three receivers with more than 100 receiving yards in one game—the first time in school history—against the RedHawks.
2014 will see an increased emphasis on the contribution from Williams, as Ball State navigates introducing a new quarterback into a system that has primarily relied on outscoring opponents in years past. Williams has lofty goals for himself for the coming season.
"I've been working on footwork, speed, flexibility, routes, and timing with quarterbacks," Williams told Ink on Indy's Evan Massey. "Just catching more balls and learning more about the game. I want to become a leader, have better stats than last year, win a MAC championship and a bowl game. I want to be 1st team All-MAC, and hopefully an All- . I'm aiming high."
Finishing fourth in the MAC in receiving yards-per-game last season at better than 80 yards a contest, Williams should have plenty of opportunities to make plays. At 6 foot 2 and 224 pounds, the junior provides a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Named to the Biletnikoff Watch List for the second season in a row, and with so much talent having departed on the offensive side of the ball, Williams will be focused upon a task he's confident himself and his peers are up to.
"It's part of college football. Good players move on and younger players come in to step up and fill the lost holes," Williams told Massey. "A lot of my teammates are in a position to step up and make more plays. We will definitely be ready for the season come fall. We are prepared to continue from where we left off and do even better than last year as a program."
Ball State opens the 2014 season August 30th at home against Colgate.